Scots curling duo eye success at the world mixed doubles championships

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
Team Aitken gearing up for their fourth world championships
Team Aitken gearing up for their fourth world championships

Bruce Mouat and Gina Aitken are poised for the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championships in Canada, but are also looking ahead to the Winter Olympics.

Thirty-nine teams will line up at this year's World Championships, with the top seven countries qualifying for next February's Games in PyeongChang.

And Team Aitken/Mouat are looking to book their place with a strong showing in Alberta.

"Qualifying GB for this discipline is obviously on our minds," said Mouat.

"We want to do better this year (at the Worlds) than last and a medal would put us in a stronger position to also go on and represent Team GB, so we need to give ourselves the best start that we can."

PyeongChang will be the first Games to feature mixed curling teams and the Scottish duo are determined to ensure Great Britain are involved.

The Edinburgh pair are in good form ahead of the World Championships. They were crowned Scottish Mixed Doubles Champions at the end of last year, their fourth national title in five years.

They also won the Bern Mixed Doubles Championships this season, finished runners up at the Dutch Masters in January and came third at the Latvian Mixed Doubles earlier this month.

And Mouat believes the fact that they have competed on the world stage before also helps.

"This will be our fourth world mixed doubles and teams are definitely taking the discipline more seriously now," he told BBC Scotland.

Team Aitken finished fourth in last years world championships
Team Aitken finished fourth in last years world championships

"There are more professional teams competing week in, week out and their focus is on getting a medal so it has moved on from the social appeal of the discipline.

"More countries are competing and they are sending better teams. The competitors are working harder in this discipline because there is now a lot at stake with the opportunity to go to an Olympic Games."

Scotland will face Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Serbia, and Wales in their group, with the Norwegians perhaps their toughest test, as winners of a bronze medal at last year's event.

Aitken believes the team is well placed to improve on last year's fourth-place finish and is relishing the opportunity to compete in Canada again.

"Curling is really big there and they always put on great curling events so we are really looking forward to these Championships," she said.

"We have certainly done a lot more work. We have trained more together and entered more competitions in order to ensure we peak at the right time."

The round-robin stage gets under way on Saturday 22 April with 16 teams proceeding to the knockout stage. The medal matches take place on Saturday 29 April.

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